If you are a fan of paranormal historical horror, you may well enjoy the second installment of Robert Herold’s Eidola (Eye-DOH-La) Project series, Moonlight Becomes You. The author takes us to post-Civil War Virginia, where the Ku Klux Klan is happy to lynch the Black member of the paranormal investigation team, where they have to eat at the “colored” public house, and where former slaves are beaten, raped, and brutalized by their White taskmasters (and former slave-owners). Into this environment, the team of northerners (Yankees) are summoned by the town’s Black reverend because the small town has a werewolf problem. Until recently, the monster preyed only on the Black community, and the White folks didn’t give it much notice. The story revolves around how the special psychic abilities of the team might help. We meet many local characters who tend to be either clear heroes or cartoonish racist villains, but there are also a number of twists that I didn’t see coming and which kept me interested to the end.
For the sections of the book where the author is focused on the main plot, it is engaging. However, there are stretches where the focus wanders. After an engaging opening sequence, the story slows down, requiring the reader to stick with the descriptive narrative and meet the various characters before the werewolf shows up. Once we get to that point, the pace picks up considerably and stays ramped up through the conclusion. The paranormal abilities of the members of the Eidola Project prove interesting and the author gives us a few glimpses into the backstories that will no doubt be further explained in future books. Some of the references are cryptic and are clearly foreshadowing of future stories. The two largest stretches are a long sequence about the manufacturing of silver bullets by the town’s two competing gunsmiths, and the lengthy remembrance by one of the main characters of his cursing by an evil and beautiful enchantress. The scenes are fine on their own, but slow down the story flow.
The biggest hole in the story is the absence of any backstory about the origins of the werewolf. The beast has classic characteristics, including an aversion to silver, and Mr. Herold manages to make his creature a bit unique in the werewolf pantheon. But I wish we knew a little more about how it came to be where it is, and whether the townsfolks should be worried about any more members of the clan. There is also a romance between one of the troop and a former slave girl that adds some flavor to the story, but which never ties into the rest of the narrative.
The book, like the first in the series, is particularly well written and well edited, making reading it a pleasure, even when the plot is meandering along in the slow portions. The descriptions are rich and many of the characters have interesting personalities. As noted, there are a few blind alleys and a few plot threads that don’t really come together, but there is never any doubt about what’s important.
I’ll say that paranormal historical horror is not my usual genre. If you are a fan, you will find this to be a unique approach that is mostly well-executed.